TALLAHASSEE, FL (August 17, 2022) – Andrew Warren, the prosecutor suspended by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has now filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge DeSantis’ blatant abuse of power. The suit asks a judge to compel the Governor to rescind his illegal order, restore Warren to office and prohibit DeSantis from taking similar illegal actions against Warren in the future.
Warren addressed the media this morning alongside his counsel, Jean-Jacques “J” Cabou, co-chair of the White Collar and Investigations practice at the international law firm Perkins Coie, LLP.
Warren, the duly elected state attorney for Tampa and Hillsborough County, Florida, is the plaintiff in the case. Ron DeSantis is the defendant.
“In our country, there are protections for freedoms and limits on power. Ron DeSantis may not like them. He may not respect them. But he does have to follow them,” said Warren, who was elected in 2016 and again in 2020.
“There is so much more at stake here than my job. Ron DeSantis is hoping to get away with overturning a fair election, throwing out the votes of hundreds of thousands of Floridians. By challenging this illegal abuse of power, we’re fighting to make sure no governor can toss out an election because he doesn’t like the winner.”
The suit spotlights the numerous legal flaws in the executive order signed by DeSantis on Aug. 4 that suspended twice-elected Warren and immediately replaced him with an unelected DeSantis accomplice.
Put simply, the governor’s move to suspend Warren:
Violated Warren’s right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution.
Exceeded DeSantis’ authority as governor under Florida law.
Claim I: Violation of the First Amendment
DeSantis violated Warren’s right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution, the lawsuit explains. Warren signed onto joint statements also signed by prosecutors from around the nation. Those statements expressed Warren’s own views and opinions on the criminalization
of abortion and gender-affirming care. The statements are not binding policies, and no criminal cases related to those issues have ever come before Warren. DeSantis took action to remove Warren because of something Warren said, not what he did.
Under the U.S. Constitution, one elected official cannot remove another based on something they said.
Claim II: Quo Warranto and Declaratory Relief
Warren does not work for DeSantis. He is an independently elected official. Under Florida law, the governor must have a valid reason for suspending him. The Court decides that, not DeSantis. DeSantis’ executive order alleges “incompetence” and “neglect of duty.” In the lawsuit, Warren’s attorneys explain that those two terms have specific definitions under Florida law and nothing Warren has done fits the definitions in the Florida Constitution. When a government official illegally exceeds their authority in Florida, as Gov. DeSantis did in his order, a claim in “quo warranto” is the way to challenge that overreach.
Under Florida law, the two reasons DeSantis gave for suspending Warren do not hold up.
Grayson Kamm | Media and Public Affairs Consultant
Catalyst Communications Group
c. (727) 430-2247